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I can still remember the news broadcast on a Saturday night which led with the story that it looked like David Beckham had just played his last game for Manchester United. The team were champions and he had walked round the Old Trafford pitch waving tearfully to fans and some lip-reading expert had zoomed in on his face and claimed he was saying “goodbye”.
There had been speculation for a while that he and Sir Alex Fergusson were not getting on like besties, but nobody really believed that Man Utd could cope without this icon of world football. He scored goals, won matches, stepped up on the big occassion, ran miles every match and led the team fantastically.
As he eventually did exit the club, there was a refrain which kept appearing at news conferences and pub discussions. “Nobody is bigger than the team”.
It’s the same as when Robbie left Take That, or Nicole left the Pussycat Dolls, or the Prime Minister retires, or Zyan left One Direction.
OK. Bad example.
The cause is the bigger thing.
No matter how big a personality, the cause is bigger. And if it isn’t then the cause was pretty small in the first place.
As we open another letter from Paul to a church (this time in a city called Philippi) we find him writing from prison…yet he is still pretty happy about life.
He is chained to a Roman guard, yet he speaks about the joy, contentment and even gratitude which he feels. He tells the church, who would of course be concerned for his welfare, that they don’t need to worry, because he is able to serve the Kingdom from prison. He might be in chains, but that is too small an inconvenience for him to stop showing people the grace of God and sharing the good news that Jesus loves us and has defeated death.
The cause is the bigger thing.
Remembering this when you have a bad day at work, or get a bit of grief from your mates for your faith, or look in horror at your bank account is not always easy – but it is Paul’s challenge to us. In whatever circumstances, are we able to give thanks and live for the greater cause?